I once made the mistake of traveling with my what amounted to my travel opposite, a boyfriend* who insisted our trip revolve around organized tours, timetables, and three meals a day spent with a group of loud, boisterous British backpackers. For someone who loves flexible, unstructured vacations where entire days are spent people watching, meandering through museums, and exploring the local culture through copious amounts of window shopping and restaurant hopping, his hyper-organized approach to travel was frustrating to say the least. Though the trip wasn’t horrible, I spent my time in Budapest feeling exhausted by the round-the-clock site-seeing and social interaction. I hit a breaking point one night when, tired from that morning’s hike and overwhelmed by the club’s blaring techno music, I left my then boyfriend in a disco to return the hostel to read Harry Potter.
The above scenario would make a lot of sense if you knew our MBTI personality types (MBT-WHAT? The MBTI – Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator – is a personality theory that categories the human population into 16 different personality types. You can find out yours by taking this test). Anyway, I’m an INFP while my boyfriend was likely of the TJ variety (thinking/judging).
The following is a summary of various travel styles as they relate to the Myers Briggs personality assessment. Knowing how your travel preferences may differ from that of your friends or relatives can mean the difference between a happy vacation and a hellish one. Which type of traveler are you?
Extraverts love being around people and are drawn to vacation settings that are primed for social interactions (like Spring Break destinations, group retreats, or cruises). They have a “the more, the merrier” approach to vacationing and love to travel in large groups of friends or with extended family. They get a lot of enjoyment from making small talk with strangers and wouldn’t hesitate to accept an invitation to a disco’s grand opening or their ferry boat captain’s birthday party. They’d be less likely to enjoy, however, a week-long solo trek in Tibet or a silent meditation retreat in India.
Like extraverts, introverts enjoy taking vacations with family and friends…but on a smaller scale. They wouldn’t dream of inviting another family with them on their trip to the lake house, for instance, preferring instead to vacation with one or two friends or close relatives instead. Though introverts aren’t necessarily afraid to interact with the locals or their fellow hotel guests, they often prefer to remain observers; turning down an invitation to a party in favor of people watching at a cafe, chatting quietly by a bonfire or going for an evening stroll with a friend instead. An introvert’s ideal trip would likely involve a lot of quiet, reflective activities (like a yoga classes or hiking the Appalachian trail) as well as time to engage in deep, meaningful conversation with a few of their favorite people.
As life-long learners, intuitive personality types enjoy vacations centered around expanding their knowledge or mastering a new skill. Thus, N’s ideal vacation might involve a week-long language course in Costa Rica or mixology class at a retreat in Vermont. They’re not likely to enjoy returning to the same place each year, as they crave novelty; making vacation rentals or summer homes a tough sell for people with this trait.
Sensors love vacations that emphasize experiences. They crave action and love tactile vacation activities that involve all of the senses. Unlike an intuitive, who might enjoy a day spent journaling or reading a book on the beach, sensors need to be on the move. Riding roller coasters, scuba diving, touring ancient ruins…these are the activities sensor vacations are made of. Admiring an ocean view or people watching from a sidewalk cafe, on the other hand, would likely make a sensor bored silly.
The judging personality type loves order and structure. Thus in the weeks and days leading up to a vacation, judgers can often be found creating to-do lists, researching activities, pre-purchasing event tickets, studying maps and plotting out a schedule for each day they spend away. They get a lot of enjoyment in the planning stages of a vacation; as much as or perhaps even more so than the vacation itself.
An ideal vacation for a judger might be a week spent at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica or on an organized tour through Europe. Judger’s love structured vacations (think set meal times and scheduled activities).
Perceivers consider vacations to be stress-relieving, therapeutic experiences. They enjoy traveling to new settings, disrupting routine and “getting away from it all”, especially in times of emotional turmoil and stress.
Unlike their judger sisters and brothers, perceivers don’t relish structured vacations. They prefer trips filled with last minute or in-the-moment decisions; opting to make travel plans over breakfast each morning rather than weeks or months in advance.
Perceivers also enjoy traveling off the beaten path, hiking to a little-known village in the Swiss alps or stumbling upon a quirky restaurant in Puerto Rico. For perceivers, it’s about the journey and not the destination, and much of their trips include penciled in time to simply wander around, get lost and mingle with the locals.
*He wasn’t a boyfriend. Not exactly. It was complicated. But that’s really besides the point.
What do you think? Do you agree with this assessment?